Hensley: Tax plan a step in the right direction

By Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley

While I believe the tax plan offered by Senate Democrats was more structurally sound, the next best option passed last week with bi-partisan support. Since it was not amended, the tax plan goes to the governor’s desk. The question is whether he will veto it or let it go into law without his signature.

I voted for this tax plan because I believe it is the first step in ending the governor’s reckless policies and putting Kansas on the long road back to fiscal responsibility.

Substitute for House Bill 2178 repeals the LLC loophole, which exempted 330,000 Kansans from income taxes. It also removes all future formulaic reductions to income tax rates, putting an end to Governor Brownback’s “march to zero.” Additionally, it restores the medical expense itemized deduction to 100 percent and protects the mortgage interest deduction at its current level.

This bill also maintains the low-income tax exemption for Kansans earning less than $5,000. It maintains the rate of 2.7 percent on earners, married filed jointly, making $0-$30K. It raises the middle bracket from 4.6 percent to 5.25 percent for income earners, married filed jointly, of $30K to $100K. This, however, is less than what these earners paid in 2012 when rates were 6.25 percent ($30K-$60K) and 6.45 percent ($60K-$100K). Finally, this bill adds a third bracket for those earning $100K or more, married filed jointly, pay 5.45 percent. Again, this is less than the 2012 rate of 6.45 percent.

There are a lot of positives that come with this plan. Keep in mind, though, that our work to right the wrongs of Governor Brownback has only just begun. The Kansas Legislature still has a budget hole to address for the current fiscal year as well as for the next fiscal year.

The damage done by the reckless policies of our governor will not be fixed overnight, but the passage of this tax plan – in a bi-partisan manner – is a good step in the right direction.


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